The Thompson-Nicola Regional District wants online voting to be made available to local governments in B.C. for upcoming elections.
On Thursday, the board voted to send a resolution to the Southern Interior Local Government Association, which will hold its annual meeting this spring.
The decision, however, did not come without opposition.
Multiple directors, including the board chair, expressed concern about technology limitations that could leave the electoral system vulnerable.
“I am concerned that the Russians may be hacking, someone may be hacking,” Sun Peaks Mayor and TNRD director Al Raine said. “Until there’s a system that is fraud-proof, I am opposed.”
TNRD board chair and Grasslands (Knutsford and Pritchard) director Ken Gillis and Blue Sky Country (Hat Creek, Spences Bridge and Walhachin) director Steven Rice echoed that sentiment, while Rivers and the Peaks (Sun Rivers, Sun Peaks, Black Pines, Paul and Pinantan lakes) director Mel Rothenburger also voted against the motion.
“I think people should get out of the house,” Rothenburger said.
Meanwhile, TNRD director and Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said he was “astonished” at the opposition, given abysmal voter turnout in municipal elections.
Just 30 per cent of Kamloops voters cast ballots in last fall’s civic election.
“It strikes me that we need to use every avenue that we can to address people in the democratic process and to continue to see the numbers at poling stations wane away to nothing does nothing to enhance participatory democracy, in my opinion,” Christian said.
TNRD director and Kamloops Coun. Kathy Sinclair added that B.C. would not be the first place to allow online voting, while Ashcroft Mayor and TNRD director Barbara Roden called it the “way of the future” as more and more services go online.
“I do all my banking online. I have no concerns whatsoever about trusting all of that very sensitive information,” Roden said. “I understand about the Russian involvement, but I think that’s a very different thing. … I think it [online voting] is the way of the future, especially for young people.”
The resolution will be debated at the Southern Interior Local Government Association convention, which will be held from April 30 to May 3 in Penticton.
Resolutions supported there will be debated at the Union of BC Municipalities annual convention in September, when municipalities decide upon issues about which to lobby the province.